Photo: Gonzalo Guillen
Colombian journalist Gonzalo Guillen had to leave the country after receiving death threats apparently linked with the recent arrest of a provincial governor on murder charges, the Foundation for Freedom of the Press, or FLIP, said Thursday.
Colombia’s interior ministry had revealed in September that it had “very precise and sensitive” information about a plan to murder Guillen and fellow reporters Leon Valencia, Ariel Avila and Claudia Lopez, who had exposed the connections of La Guajira Gov. Jose Francisco “Kiko” Gomez Cercha with paramilitaries.
Authorities said at the time that they even had information that a hitman with the alias “Morroncho” could have traveled to Bogota from La Guajira on a mission to kill the reporters.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders also sent a letter this week to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the Andean nation’s top law enforcement officials to alert them to the four reporters’ situation.
Guillen, up to less than two years ago, was the correspondent for Miami’s El Nuevo Herald, having previously worked for leading Colombian daily El Tiempo, among other publications.
Kiko Gomez has been linked to the 1997 murder of Barrancas city councilman Luis Lopez Peralta and the killings in 2000 of Luis Alejandro Rodriguez Frias and Rosa Mercedes Cabrera Alfaro, Colombian Deputy Attorney General Jorge Perdomo said last weekend.
Investigators have also linked Gomez to militia chief Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, known as “Jorge 40,” one of the top leaders of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC.
The AUC, accused of committing numerous human rights violations, demobilized more than 31,000 of its fighters between the end of 2003 and mid-2006 as part of the peace process with then-President Alvaro Uribe’s administration.